Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Serendipitous Stories

Bill chose "serendipity" as the theme-word to represent the letter "S" for our contribution to this week's ABC Wednesday blog meme.  A couple of definitions at this thesaurus link for serendipity are: stroke of luck, stumble upon, and smile.  I think they suit this post just swell.    

We ate blueberries yesterday at lunchtime, and that choice of dessert was a stroke of luck because we stumbled upon a memory of Bill's that inspired some wonderful storytelling and laughter that still brings a smile to my face when I remember it this morning.  He took time to write one of the stories down and I will preface it with a picture of huckleberries to put you in the mood.  The photo comes from one of the links in his story.  
Photo from this site:
Bill's Story in His Own Words

Today at lunch I had a bowl of blueberries for dessert. Somehow this triggered a memory of an encounter with another berry many decades before. It took place at a summer job with the BC Forest Service, after my first year at university.

Our mission was to extinguish small forest fires before they could spread. It was a rainy summer with not many fires, but there was still lots to do. One such task was log scaling, measuring the quantity of felled logs in order to determine the timber royalty owed to the government ( The Forester and I drove out on a beautiful day to a logging site and spent the morning scaling (basically measuring each log's length and diameter). After lunch the Forester said "How about dessert?".

By dessert he meant huckleberries, which are cousins of blueberries (  The open sunny area nearby was loaded with huckleberry bushes. We sat down and ate our fill. A few hundred feet away, I spotted a bear sitting on its haunches enjoying the same dessert! It was my first wild bear encounter. What to do? I noticed the Forester calmly ignoring the situation so I manned up and did the same. There are many more pleasant memories of that summer but this was one of the most memorable.
Another of Bill's stories, as remembered by Carol
I asked Bill lots of questions after he told me about simultaneously sharing a great dessert idea with a workmate and a bear.  I loved listening to him and seeing the shine in his eyes as memories of this time in his life came flooding back.  To put you in the mood for this next story, you may want to listen to the song, Old Yeller.  I wonder how many of you remember it.
(Telling the story with as close to Bill's voice as I can remember)
"That job brought some "firsts" that I still remember fondly.  Along with my first bear-in-the-wild sighting, there was the camaraderie with a bunch of nice guys and there was my first ride in a helicopter.  We flew together to the work site, and I remember that one of the guys lived in a lookout tower. His job was to scan the area for signs of forest fire.  He invited us to climb the steep steps to the tower to have a cup of tea with him when we were off duty.  When we went, we not only enjoyed the tea but we loved it when he played the guitar and sang "Old Yeller" for us.  Every time we went, we asked for the same song.  We just loved it.  I also remember that I grew my first beard at that time.  It was a scraggly thing, not much at all, really.  I remember that Phyllis came to visit and she laughed."

Back to Carol's Voice for the rest of this post
Phyllis is Bill's sister.  They are only ten months apart and I can imagine her amusement but also her new vision of her grown-up baby brother as one of a logging crew.  Her laughter was not a negative memory but rather inspired more laughter as Bill told me about it.  I think Phyllis will enjoy this story.  

The rest of our day had lots of serendipitous moments in it as well.  We biked past the Cambie Bridge and spent some time exploring the very same area I talked about in yesterday's post.  Here's Bill with Black Jack after we've locked our bikes to each other.  We were about to traverse those stepping stones behind him that you may just be able to make out at the left of the photo.
It was a beautiful day and we loved the flowers..
all about us.
The stepping stones took us to a small trail that was rich with bird life.  I have difficulty distinguishing between kinglets and bush tits but will go out on a limb here and say this was a bush tit.  (Please correct me if you suspect I am mistaken.)
Bill spotted this Goldfinch.  Yellow birds of all types cause my heart rate to speed up.
The blooms were spectacular..
adding to that mood of serendipitous specialness everywhere we looked.  
Bill was in fine form as he headed back over the stepping stones.  
Nature wasn't the only seduction.  A father and his son were playing with these remote-control vehicles and Bill's attention understandably strayed that direction a few times :)  
Those vehicles didn't struggle at all to traverse the rocks and stones.
Back to the bike path here.  I was listening to Redwing Blackbirds and tried to get shots.
In the end, that effort failed but the flowers more than made up for it.
There were young starlings all about.. 
that I suspect had recently fledged.
What are these anyway.  I will be so happy if somebody helps me out!
I finally managed one shot of a female Redwing and can barely wait to try again soon to capture a male.
It was a surprise to discover this bee while admiring..
a wild rose.  It curled up here, perhaps for a short sleep.
We stopped for bathroom breaks at the community centre and Bill snapped this photo of me with Black Jack in her basket.
I do not love having my photo taken but Bill is a good sport about modelling for me, so once in a while, I comply.  It was easy to smile at that handsome guy behind the camera :)
I love the way Black Jack settles into her basket..
She's pretty splendid when she sits up too.  Here, she awaits the return of Bill.
Crosswords and lattés at Harrison Galleries were the perfect conclusion to our outing.
The Harrisons are constantly sprucing up their gallery and I loved the way this painting was reflected in the table.
Later, we had supper and I looked out our balcony door to catch sight of this white-crowned sparrow.
The flowers in David Lam Park were just as stunning as the ones we had admired earlier.
A river boat..
with its BC flag just happened to change directions right in front of us. I snapped this shot..
of the paddle before letting my attention stray to..
the dragon boaters' strength and..
A seal popped its head up just before we left to return home.  That was the last of a day full of serendipitous pleasures.  Bill's stories, though, take the starring role in this post for me.  Have a great Wednesday everyone.  Many thanks to the hardworking team that keeps ABC Wednesday working smoothly! 


  1. birds, blooms, bikes, black jack, bill, berries - and thankfully, no bears. :)

  2. Beauty everywhere, the yellow Finch so vibrant--I love it too. You have a wonderful camera, all the pictures are so good. I enjoyed the huckleberry story.

  3. Your wonderful post sure brought a smile here, thanks,

  4. What a serendipitous day you had! Splendid shots of so many wondrous sights in the city. By the way, the blue flower is a lupin - they grow like weeds here and there are pink ones, too. They don't last too long but last spring, I picked a whole bunch in the dog park and took photos of them in a crystal vase. They looked really pretty for a few days, but sadly, they wilted.

    abcw team

  5. That seal looks cheeky :) I'm not a fan of yellow but if it's a color of a bird or a rose then I love it. Huckleberry - I just think it sounds like a fairytale. Love its color too!

  6. You got such lively and heart warming shots. It's not that easy to see the bee in that flower. You have great timing and photography skills. Thanks for the lovely photos.

  7. You made some amazing shots! Thanks for sharing them with us!

  8. So many great pics. I could never tell the difference between huckleberries and its cousins.

  9. I love the word "serendipity" and the finding of little surprises which give so much pleasure! I love the stories of Bill's fire fighting but do not remember laughing at his beard. None of the men in my family, either the first into which I was born or my married family, can grow a beard. Remind me to tell you a beard story about Barrie! I love all the pictures of the goslings, flowers and especially of you and Bill! Phyllis... a very happy friend and sister.

  10. Definitely Lupins. My father used to grow these in our garden in England. The cultivated ones also come in pink. Do you carry heavy lenses around with you to get such sharp photos or do you just have a super camera?